A police officer threatened to run over people who protested the death of George Floyd and called them “animals,” West Virginia officials say.
Now, the cop is out of a job, the Winfield Police Department announced Monday on Facebook.
Noah Garcelon resigned from his position after officials found his “inappropriate” online comments and investigated, the department said.
Police told The Herald-Dispatch that the posts referred to demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck. That officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and arrested on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Though violence has been reported at some protests, most participants remained peaceful over the weekend, officials told ABC News.
Garcelon is accused of taking to Facebook on Saturday night to post: “’Peaceful’ protesting. I’d start firing live rounds. Bunch of animals,” WSAZ reported.
The next day, he wrote: “I’d see how many I could run over before my car breaks down… get out the way,” according to a screenshot obtained by the TV station.
Though Garcelon had been on the police force since December, the spread of COVID-19 didn’t allow him to go through police academy training, The Herald-Dispatch reported.
“He said he is not a racist, but we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior here,” Winfield police chief Ron Arthur told the newspaper.
Arthur on Tuesday didn’t respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
Social media users were divided about the situation. Some people applauded how Winfield authorities approached the case.
“Thank you, Chief, for your solid investigative and very appropriate action. We are a good community and we’ll be better now,” one person wrote on the department’s Facebook page.
But other social media users said the officer had the right to express his opinion during a time of clashes between police and demonstrators.
In an apparent reference to possible ways protests could escalate, one person wrote: “WOW really?! I’d like to see a show of hands at how many of us would sit in our cars or be pulled from our cars? How many would allow bricks to the thrown at our cars?”
Winfield is a town roughly 25 miles northwest of Charleston, West Virginia.